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HALLANDALE, FL — Two teenagers struck by an SUV in the 1200 block of East Hallandale Boulevard on Dec. 23 remained in critical condition in the hospital Friday while friends and local leaders continued to pray for their recovery.
Elana Kasle, 18, of Michigan, is still unconscious while Chaya Yanni, 19, of France, is slowly recovering, said an official of the students’ Hallandale Beach seminary.
Kasle and Yanni were returning about 10 p.m. on Sunday from a nearby Publix to the seminary where they live when an SUV slammed into them, Hallandale Beach police said.
They were trailing behind several students, some who saw Kasle hit the SUV’s windshield and then fall to the asphalt, principal Rabbi Yossi Lebovics said.
Kasle and Yanni are students of the Chaya Aydel Seminary, a Chabad Lubavitch institute of the Chabad of South Broward, 1295 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd.
Girls from around the world enroll in the Lubavitch school’s one-year program that focuses on academics and community outreach, Lebovics said.
Friday, as friends continued to pray for their recovery, Kasle and Yanni and their families were visited by Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti.
First, donning a black yarmulke, Lamberti gave a brief talk with children attending the school’s Gan Israel winter camp, of which the hospitalized girls were to be counselors. Lamberti’s appearance had been arranged before Sunday.
”I just want to give them some hope,” Lamberti said, adding that he will decree the girls will recover.
Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus, executive vice president of Chabad of South Broward, explained that the law holds a special relationship with the Torah. God and the law, he said, are intertwined, making Lamberti’s decree powerful.
”God has to listen to the law of the land,” he said.
Hallandale police said the students were jaywalking across the busy thoroughfare when Gloria Boix, 82, struck them with her Honda SUV.
Boix was not injured and has not been charged, police said, though an investigation is ongoing.
The girls who saw the incident have received counseling. Two returned home during the school’s one-week break, the school’s principal said.
The leaders and the 18 students of the seminary school were keeping a positive attitude Friday, which they said will aid in their friends’ recovery.
Dressed in flowing skirts, students walked around red-eyed Friday morning and discussed who would visit their friends. ”We just want everyone to pray,” said Chaya Kessler, 18. “They’re going to get better.”
On Wednesday, several hundred came to the school and joined in prayer for the teens, seminary officials said. Leaders of the school say prayer, good deeds and positive thought will help heal the students. ”Think positive and it will be positive,” Tennenhaus said.
Kessler and others have taken turns visiting their friends in the hospital. Students of the school described Yanni as an upbeat person who is always cracking jokes and Kasle as someone who “always finds the best in everything.”
Yanni is awake and talking, but must learn to walk again, Kessler said.
Yanni spent time with Kasle on Thursday night night in the hospital, Tennenhaus said. “It was a very touching sight.”